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MailTribune.com
  • Rising or razing in Phoenix?

    History advocates battle demolition of historic Steadman house
  • PHOENIX — The fate of the historic Steadman house, a more than century-old dwelling at the corner of West Second and Pine streets, could be decided today at a City Council meeting.
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  • PHOENIX — The fate of the historic Steadman house, a more than century-old dwelling at the corner of West Second and Pine streets, could be decided today at a City Council meeting.
    While its owners say the old farmhouse is not worth restoring — they'd like to build a new house on the site — members of the Phoenix Historical Society and local preservation expert George Kramer say the house is structurally intact and historically significant to the city.
    Property owners Marion Jerry and Alice Jane Moore submitted a demolition request for the house at 301 W. Second St. in October.
    In a brief letter, the couple state they purchased the house when they married in 1966, lived there for a dozen years, then rented it out.
    Now in retirement, the couple want to return to the property. But they say the house, which lacks a foundation and insulation, is impractical for their needs.
    The house boasts a handful of additions, including a porch that is showing signs of collapse, and the old kitchen is far from modern standards.
    The house was built in 1910, according to county records, but Kramer suspects it was constructed by the pioneer Steadman family some time in the late 1800s.
    While visiting the property Friday, Kramer said the building's historical significance and structural integrity make it a prime candidate for preservation.
    Kramer recently was commissioned by the Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency to survey the city's historical properties, and he said the house — one of the city's originals — would qualify for listing on the National Register of Historic Places "in a minute."
    "Maybe none of it meets code for a modern house, but it's an old house," he said. "The cool thing is that it's built out of incredible old-growth timber. The siding was all probably milled by water. It's a full inch thick, which is why it can sit here all these years and be in shape with nobody having done anything to it.
    "The thing I always say about historic houses is that they're not making them anymore," Kramer added. "A city can't build its future by demolishing its past."
    The local historical society initially voted to allow the demolition. But members said Friday they had been given the impression by city officials that the house was not restorable. They have now changed their position.
    "We will rescind our OK of the demolition plans because we feel that we didn't have enough information to make a decision for demolishing a historic house — mainly because we don't have that many left," said Dorothy Cotton, society secretary.
    Jay Treiger, a general contractor who specializes in historic restoration, inspected the house for the city. He said his analysis was not intended to discourage demolition but merely to point out features that needed repair.
    "I was approached by a city planner who asked me to write up an analysis as a historian and restorer of historic structures," Treiger said. "Yes, there's deferred maintenance, but we certainly have restored far worse."
    The City Council will discuss the demolition request at 6:30 p.m. at the Public Works Office, 1000 S. B St.
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com
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